RTHK "Letter to Hong Kong"

by Martin Lee

For broadcast on 24 November 1996

After several years of threats, China has finally announced a date that the appointed Provisional Legislature will be set up. On December 21 of this year, China will unveil its Christmas present to Hong Kong people: a rubber stamp legislature which will put the chair out from under Hong Kong's system and destroy the rule of law in Hong Kong.

The so-called provisional legislature will be chosen by the same 400-member appointed "Selection Committee" which has anointed as future Chief Executive Mr. C.H. Tung. The process of sweeping away Hong Kong's current elected legislature began in earnest this week with the distribution of application forms for those wishing to be part of China's new appointed body.

Indeed, to the astonishment of the community, it now appears that a significant number of the members of the provisional legislature will be pro-Beijing figures already soundly rejected by Hong Kong voters at the polls. Clearly China does not trust Chinese people in Hong Kong to pick their own representatives. Despite Qian Qichen's statement that the appointed Selection Committee represented the "dawn of democracy in Hong Kong" we should prepare ourselves instead for "Democracy with Chinese characteristics."

The Chairman of a large party in Hong Kong -- who on the morning of his defeat in September 1995 solemnly pledged he would respect the wishes of Hong Kong voters and not take an appointed seat "by the backdoor" -- has said he would put his name forward for appointment. And sadly, one of the earliest people to pick up her application form maintained that she had indeed, not been defeated in last year's elections at all -- an insult both to the voters of Hong Kong and to her own history championing of Hong Kong people.

Even now, some legitimately elected legislators are horse-trading to secure sufficient necessary nominations from the Selection Committee. No stronger proof exists of the corrupted and undemocratic nature of this process.

Though the Hong Kong people carefully chose their legislators through a fair and open ballot, it now appears China will install into its rubber stamp legislature even those people who were rejected by Hong Kong people. I bear absolutely no grudge to these people, particulary those who I or my party members defeated in 1991 or 1995.

No doubt the people of Hong Kong will be particularly keen to hear from those former appointed Legco members who didn't dare stand for democratic election a year ago, but who are now scrambling for appointed seats. Though the British will be gone, these people want to restore a de facto colonial system where Hong Kong people have no say in their government.

It also now appears that Beijing believes that those rejected by Hong Kong people will be the most willing to help tear down the existing democratic institutions. This is a great setback for Hong Kong's future political development. Not only do these people have no mandate or support from Hong Kong people, they are likely to use their new appointed positions to ensure that future laws will prevent those who defeated them in legitimate polls from ever winning another election.

Aside from being sore losers, many of the so-called "candidates" for the appointed legislature are clearly prepared to undertake whatever task the Chinese government has in mind. These people must know that Beijing has definite plans for them: to rubber stamp laws on subversion, reinstate repressive colonial laws and to repeal key parts of the Bill of Rights. In effect, Beijing wants them to do the dirty work, but all the while claiming this "legislature" is representative of Hong Kong people.

Hong Kong people are entitled to know from those putting themselves forward whether and how they intend to defend Hong Kong's autonomy and the "one country, two systems" policy. For the next six months, we will have "one territory, two legislatures" -- with only one representing the will of the people. What will they do when the wishes of Beijing clashes with the wishes of Hong Kong people?

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